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María Soledad López and Alejandro Giraudo

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Gisela Paola Bellini, Vanesa Arzamendia and Alejandro Raúl Giraudo

Abstract

Studying life history (LH) allows a broader understanding of organisms and populations’ responses to their environments. Snakes display an immense diversity in terms of reproductive traits, which is reflected in LH traits. The aim of this study is to compare reproductive biology and morphological variables in viviparous and oviparous snakes of a temperate South American community. We studied nearly 1000 specimens of eight oviparous and seven viviparous species pertaining to the four taxonomic families that inhabit the Paraná basin floodplain. Dimorphic variables did not show a different tendency between oviparous and viviparous species. Our results showed that the reproductive mode determined some reproductive traits of a snake’s LH, such as reproductive frequency and reproductive potential. Oviparous snakes reproduce annually, while viviparous snakes reproduce biannually or multi-annually. All species showed seasonal reproductive cycles and no correlation between clutch size (fecundity) and maternal body size. The reproductive strategy of both oviparous and viviparous species of the Paraná River floodplain was to adjust their reproductive cycles to both hydrological cycle of the river and temperature regime. The reproductive traits under study are suggested to have been influenced by environmental factors as well as by genetic characteristics. The studied assemblage is the result of an admixture of evolutionarily distinct clades, each contributing a set of species with different reproductive traits. Although we do not ignore this fact, we emphasize the importance of studying reproductive LH as raw material for an integrative analysis.